First things first, does winter weather cause breakouts?
“Actually, acne does not tend to be seasonal for most people,” says Dr. Schaffran, our chief dermatologist. “There are some who find their acne varies from one season to the next because their skin does better or worse in different climates, but that’s not the majority.”
What does affect acne is dryness. If your skin is dry, it sends a signal to your oil glands that they need to produce more oil, leading to more sebum production. In acne-prone patients, this excess oil production means more pores get clogged, resulting in worsening acne.
What can I do to manage dryness?
Moisturize, moisturize and guess what else? Moisturize. A serum — applied before a moisturizer — can also be beneficial in delivering a high concentration of hydrating active ingredients to the skin. (Our popular favorite, the Serum Hydrator is a great choice.)
Okay, so worsening acne doesn’t necessarily correlate with winter weather. What factors are at play during different times of year then?
Dr. Schaffran: “In my experience, the biggest contributing factor to seasonal acne is stress at different times of the year.” In other words, those holiday parties are a biggie. Navigating an endless “to do list”, including corporate cocktails, the kids’ holiday wish lists and hosting a dinner for 16 might land a few stress-induced flare-ups on your face.
Other contributing factors to acne are sweating and humidity during warmer months. That’s why it’s important to frequently wash off any sweat that has accumulated on your face so that it doesn’t mix with dirt and oil, which can then lead to breakouts.
Is there anything I can do to prep my skin for the change in season?
From an acne perspective, there isn’t much you can do preventatively other than making sure your skin barrier intact and protected. This means using an effective and gentle cleansing and moisturizing routine (cough cough… The 3-Step System). Don’t over scrub or use products that will strip too much of your own natural oils (here’s looking at you, salicylic acid and retinol). Too much of this can cause more dryness, irritation and actually perpetuate the breakout cycle.